Category Archives: defense

Tim April defends MS thesis

Tim April recently defended his MS thesis [1]. Tim’s topic of exploration was multitouch surfaces and how interactions with these surfaces might be improved with the use of tangible user interfaces. Here’s a picture from the defense (for more pictures see Flickr):

Tim is currently Security Researcher at Akamai Technologies.



[1] Tim April, “Comparing and Contrasting Manual Direct Touch Interaction with Tangible User Interfaces for Mapping Applications,” MS Thesis, University of New Hampshire, 2013

Zeljko Medenica defends dissertation

Last November Zeljko Medenica defended his dissertation [1]. Zeljko explored new performance measures that can be used to characterize interactions with in-vehicle devices. The impetus for this work came from our work with personal navigation devices. Specifically, in work published in 2009 [2] we found fairly large differences in the time drivers spend looking at the road ahead (more for voice-only turn-by-turn directions, less when there’s also a map displayed). However, the commonly used driving performance measures (average variance of lane position and steering wheel angle) did not indicate differences between these conditions. We thought that driving might still be affected, and Zeljko’s work confirms this hypothesis.

Zeljko is now with Nuance, working with Garrett Weinberg. Garrett and Zeljko collaborated during Zeljko’s internships at MERL (where Garrett worked prior to joining Nuance) in 2009 and 2010.

I would like to thank Zeljko’s committee for all of their contributions: Paul GreenTim Paek, Tom Miller, and Nicholas Kirsch. Below is a photo of all of us after the defense. See more photos on Flickr.

Tim Paek (left), Zeljko Medenica, Andrew Kun, Tom Miller, Nicholas Kirsch, and Paul Green (on the laptop)



[1] Zeljko Medenica,  “Cross-Correlation Based Performance Measures for Characterizing the Influence of In-Vehicle Interfaces on Driving and Cognitive Workload,” Doctoral Dissertation, University of New Hampshire, 2012

[2] Andrew L. Kun, Tim Paek, Zeljko Medenica, Nemanja Memarovic, Oskar Palinko, “Glancing at Personal Navigation Devices Can Affect Driving: Experimental Results and Design Implications,” Automotive UI 2009

Zeljko Medenica advances to candidacy

Last week my PhD student Zeljko Medenica advanced to candidacy. Zeljko plans to create a driving performance measure that would be sensitive to short-lived and/or infrequent degradations in driving performance. In previous driving simulator-based studies [1, 2] we found that glancing away from the road is correlated with worse driving performance. Importantly, this is true even when performance averages over the length of the entire experiment are not affected. Thus, Zeljko plans to explore the use of cross-correlation in creating a new, highly sensitive driving performance measure.

Zeljko’s PhD committee includes Paul Green (UMTRI), Tim Paek (Microsoft Research), Nicholas Kirsch (UNH) and Tom Miller (UNH). Thanks to all for serving!


[1] Andrew L. Kun, Tim Paek, Zeljko Medenica, Nemanja Memarovic, Oskar Palinko, “Glancing at Personal Navigation Devices Can Affect Driving: Experimental Results and Design Implications,” Automotive UI 2009

[2] Zeljko Medenica, Andrew L. Kun, Tim Paek, Oskar Palinko, “Augmented Reality vs. Street Views: A Driving Simulator Study Comparing Two Emerging Navigation Aids,” to appear at MobileHCI 2011

Alex Shyrokov defends PhD

Two weeks ago my student Alex Shyrokov defended his PhD dissertation. Alex was interested in human-computer interaction for cases when the human is engaged in a manual-visual task. In such situations a speech interface appears to be a natural way to communicate with a computer. Alex was especially interested in multi-threaded spoken HCI. In multi-threaded dialogues the conversants switch back and forth between multiple topics.

How should we design a speech interface that will support multi-threaded human-computer dialogues when the human is engaged in a manual-visual task? In order to begin answering this question Alex explored spoken dialogues between two human conversants. The hypothesis is that a successful HCI design can mimic some aspects of human-human interaction.

In Alex’s experiments one of the conversants (the driver) operated a simulated vehicle while the other (an assistant) was only engaged in the spoken dialogue. The conversants were engaged in an ongoing and in an interrupting spoken task. Alex’s dissertation discusses several interesting findings, one of which is that driving performance is worse during and after the interrupting task. Alex proposes that this is due to a shift in the driver’s attention away from driving and to the spoken tasks. The shift in turn is due to the perceived urgency of the spoken tasks – as the perceived urgency increases the driver is more likely to shift her attention away from driving. The lesson for HCI design is to be very careful in managing the driver’s perceived urgency when interacting with devices in the car.

Alex benefited tremendously from the help of my collaborator on this research Peter Heeman. Peter provided excellent guidance throughout Alex’s PhD studies for which I am grateful. Peter and I plan to continue working with Alex’s data. The data includes transcribed dialogues, videos, driving performance as well as eye tracker data. I am especially interested in using the eye tracker’s pupil diameter measurements to estimate cognitive load as we have done in work lead by Oskar Palinko [1].


[1] Oskar Palinko, Andrew L. Kun, Alexander Shyrokov, Peter Heeman, “Estimating Cognitive Load Using Remote Eye Tracking in a Driving Simulator,” ETRA 2010